Former RLD leader and now Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) Chief Pappu Yadav announced yesterday that if the Third Front comes to power, the alliance would field a Muslim as the next Chief Minister of Bihar. He also announced that Bihar would get a Deputy Chief Minister from the OBC segment. This is certainly going to stir up debate amongst all parties to gauge the impact of this announcement.
So will this strategy work for the Third Front? The announcement may not have a significant impact on the voters but it will certainly help take away some votes from the traditional Muslim and OBC vote share that traditionally has voted for RJD-JD(U). Remember, Third Front is fighting in all 243 seats and therefore it is bound to upset calculations for other parties. The Muslims make up around 16.6% of the total population.
It must be remembered that the Third Front is a motley group of disgruntled leaders who had been rejected or had differences with their earlier parties, mostly JD(U) and RJD, while Mulayam Singh walked away from the Grand Alliance. Mulayam Singh despite being a Yadav has relatively limited appeal in Bihar. The voters are now better informed and realise that the Third Front has not come up on any ideology but is a reaction to the Grand Alliance. Most of the Third Front partners command limited appeal in certain pockets only. To what extent this will collectively impact the overall vote pattern, remains to be seen.
Samajwadi Party releases its first list of 19 candidates
SP yesterday announced it first list of 19 candidates. Making the announcement, state SP President, Ramchandra Yadav spoke about how Lalu-Nitish combine had compromised on the ideology of Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan and stated that the people of Bihar would teach the duo a lesson.
The list of candidates included his wife Nutan Chandra Yadav who will contest from Bhabua, Dilip Kesri (Begusarai), Gopal Bharati (Bhagalpur), and Vijay Kumar Yadav (Sheikhpura), amongst others.
The Third Front alliance will be contesting 243 seats and their seat sharing is as follows: SP-85 seats, JAP-64, NCP-40, SSP-28, SJP-23 and NPP-3.
Women voters could change voting dynamics in this election
This election in Bihar is going to be with a difference. Never before in its history has the female voter been more aware of current issues at the local and state level, better informed of her rights, and willing to make an informed choice, away from advice or rather diktat of other members of her family. Thanks to greater penetration of mobile and smartphones, women are now getting used to being informed in real time on developing news and therefore greater numbers are beginning to form their own opinions.
Compared to last Assembly elections in 2010, more female youth are now connected and are beginning to demand their rights. The composition of the state Assembly, post 2010 elections, is 209 male representatives and 34 female representatives. If all parties continue to put up more women candidates, this year is likely to see a higher representation.
Women voters have largely been supportive of Nitish Kumar since he first took over as the Bihar CM and with good reason. It was he who for the first time introduced 50% reservation for women in Panchayati Raj structure and in another first, introduced 35% reservation for women in police. Both these actions came early after becoming the CM and made the right connect with women, who comprise almost half the voters in Bihar.
His other move of inducting nearly 1.5 lakh women as contract teachers was also well received. In fact, one of the reasons that Nitish Kumar still leads the Opinion Polls as the first choice for CM is his popularity with women. This is going to be a tough wall to crack for the BJP, and is the main reason behind their offering more seats to women candidates in these elections. Either ways, the biggest gainers are going to be women and this election, which will surely be remembered as one where women made the difference and not caste, well hopefully.
Election Commission reads out the riot act
The Election Commissioner has warned all candidates to maintain decorum during campaigning. It warned against any derogatory or vulgar remarks against women candidates and stated that the poll watchdog shall take strict action against anyone indulging in this. The warning comes at a time when candidates tend to have a free-for-all during campaigning. These elections will be the most closely monitored elections ever in Bihar, with 50,000 paramilitary personnel guarding polling stations and ensuring no violence or intimidation of voters takes place.
Politician in focus: Rama Devi, BJP (Born 5 May 1949)
Rama Devi was born in Lalganj in District Vaishali to KP Chaudhary and Dharbaran Devi. Rama Devi first completed her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and then studied Law from SKJ Law College. She was always interested in social service and upliftment of the weaker sections of society, besides being a keen follower of sports.
Politics to her was a means to contribute for the betterment of people of Bihar and she plunged into it on a full time basis. She was first elected as MP in the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998 and has since been a Member in various Committees at the Central and State level. She is the sitting MP from Sheohar.
Constituency in focus: Kishanganj
Kishanganj town is the district headquarters of Kishanganj district and is located in the northeastern part of Bihar, very close to the Bangladesh border on one side and Nepal to the other. Kishanganj district is spread over 1,884 sq kms with 771 villages, divided into 7 Blocks. This is the only tea growing district in Bihar.
As per 2011 Census, the population is 1,690,948 with a literacy rate of 57.04%.
2010 Assembly Election Results
• Winner in 2010 Assembly Poll: Dr Mohammad Jawaid, INC
• Margin of win: 264 votes; 0.21% of total valid votes
• Runner-up: Sweety Singh, BJP
• Male voters: 64,727; Female voters: 59,106; Total: 123,875
• Polling %: 58.47
• Male Candidates who contested: 12; Female Candidates: 1
• Polling stations: 221
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